Million Dollar Arm (2014)
Directed by Craig Gillespie.
Cast: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Pitobash, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Darshan Jariwala, Gregory Alan Williams, Allyn Rachel, Tzi Ma, Rey Maualuga, Bar Paly.
2014 124 minutes
Rated: (for mild language and some suggestive content).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, October 6, 2014.
In the grand tradition of 2009's "The Blind Side
," where a privileged white person saves and betters the life of an underprivileged minority, "Million Dollar Arm" stars John Hamm (2011's "Friends with Kids
") as J.B. Bernstein, a womanizing, down-on-his-luck sports agent who formulates a potential career-saving idea one night as he channel surfs between "Britain's Got Talent" and a cricket match. Traveling to India, he invites aspiring coach Amit Rohan (Pitobash) and hopeful candidates Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal) to come to America and train in hopes of earning spots on a Major League Baseball team. They move in with J.B., teach him about kindness and dignity, and are swept to the side so that everything can be told from the point of view of the studly, more easily marketable white actor in the cast.
Directed by Craig Gillespie (2011's "Fright Night
") and written by Thomas McCarthy (2011's "Win Win
"), "Million Dollar Arm" is close to lifeless in its rote, vaguely racist storytelling where the Indian characters' fish-out-of-water actions in the U.S. is treated as comic, "aren't-they-funny" fodder. Jon Hamm is distant as J.B., and his character exhibits no detectable signs that he is passionate about baseball. It seems like only a job to him, which makes his lead-role status in this tale all the more egregious. Lake Bell (2011's "No Strings Attached
") tries to overcompensate for her standard love-interest part with an added layer of unfiltered gregariousness, but, as J.B.'s cute med-student tenant Brenda, there's only so much she can do. "Million Dollar Arm" is bland and overlong at 124 minutes. Simply put, there is nothing here of interest.